Mapisa-Nqakula to explain Harare flight to Parliamentary oversight committee

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Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is not going to be allowed to go quietly into her period of presidentially enforced “penury”, with Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) wanting her for a briefing at the same time as a top civil rights organisation adds its voice to calls for her dismissal.

Her apparent offer of “a lift” to Harare for fellow ruling party members aboard an SA Air Force (SAAF) Falcon 900 bizjet on 8 September backfired following public outcry resulting in President Cyril Ramaphosa calling for his defence and military veterans minister to “please explain”. This she did in the brief 48 hour period allocated her by the Commander-in-Chief and she now faces three months without pay and an official reprimand from South Africa’s first citizen. Additionally, Ramaphosa told her to make sure the ANC offer to pay for its portion of the flight costs does happen.

Opposition parties in the form of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Freedom Front Plus (FF+) called for her dismissal with FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald going further and filing a complaint with the Public Protector.

JSCD chair Cyril Xaba today confirmed to defenceWeb his committee wants to see Mapisa-Nqakula on 16 October regarding “developments pertaining to her working trip to Zimbabwe”.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) is also vociferous in calling for Mapisa-Nqakula’s dismissal. The Randburg headquartered civil rights organisation said this week “docking her three months’ salary” was insufficient and questioned Ramaphosa’s putting her in charge of ensuring the offer to pay – the exact amount has not yet been made public – by the ANC.

“Making matters worse, is this Minister was out of line in a similar manner previously. In 2014 she allowed a military aircraft to be used to transport her late son’s acquaintance (Michelle Wege) from the DR Congo to South Africa,” Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA Executive Director – Accountability Division, said.

“Actions like this by a minister are in direct contravention of the Executive Members Ethics Act and repeating such gross misconduct as a Minister we believe it’s time for her to go.”

“Criminal charges were filed against Mapisa-Nqakula for her role in the DRC flight and a complaint was submitted to the Public Protector to investigate possible violations of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act. We believe the minister has not yet been held accountable for prior actions and again, she contravened the Executive Members’ Ethics Act and displayed and showed little regard for her responsibilities to the nation.

“We need the President to relieve Mapisa-Nqakula of her duties and in so doing sending a strong message to people in positions of authority harsh action can be expected when acting outside the law or not in the best interest of the people of South Africa,” Fick said.

OUTA has written to the President requesting he recall the minister and replace her with someone who will show a greater regard for the rules and role of the minister of defence and military veterans.